Image of two silkscreen printed Japanese papers - chiyogami - in aqua tones with white cranes and flowers

Chiyogami or Katazome-shi?

These exceptional Japanese handmade decorative papers are beautiful in their design, colour and practicality.  Let's take a closer look at how they are manufactured and their similarities and differences.

Both chiyogami and katazome-shi papers, whilst light in weight, are both supple to handle and strong.  They are both an excellent choice for covering boxes, bookbinding, origami, a broad range of creative work, home decoration and gift wrapping.

Whilst they share these qualities their production methods are different. 

image of a chiyogami paper (yuzen) showing a cherry blossom branch in red and gold on a teal backdrop, with close-up detail of the paper

Chiyogami papers (sometimes referred to as Yuzen) are silkscreen printed using high quality, richly pigmented inks. Each colour is silkscreened by hand and this results in luscious, colourful and vibrantly patterned papers, many designs are then finished with a screen of gold, silver or copper providing an opulence. 

Originally produced as woodblock prints in the Edo period and often inspired by textile and kimono patterns, chiyogami was developed for decorative use in homes and interiors.  Today these papers continue to be produced in several small studios around Kyoto.

 japanese katazome-shi, stencil-dyed paper with a yellow and orange floral repeat pattern and close up of the deckled paper edging

Katazome-shi papers are produced using a traditional stencil dyeing technique, applied one colour at a time by hand onto a kozo-sulphite mix handmade paper.  The stencils used are produced from persimmon-dyed kozo (paper mulberry) and aided by paste and "Kojiro" (soy bean juice). The pigments of the soy-based inks absorb deeply into the fibres resulting in vibrant and long-lasting colours. 

Developed during the 20th century in Kyoto, these precious papers were originally inspired by traditional kimono printing techniques and patterns.

If you want to quickly identify between the two, the texture of the paper is the first thing to consider; chiyogami has a smooth finish and the white edges surrounding the printed area are straight.  Katazome-shi, however, has a less refined character with a slightly rougher matt surface texture and the paper is deckle-edged.

Finally, if the paper has gold, silver or a copper finish then it is always a silkscreen chiyogami paper!


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